After recently conducting a small class with five women entrepreneurs to talk about the power of collaborations, I realized how much of a turn-off it was. Then we dug a little deeper and realized only one out of five had a good experience. As someone who has done different business ventures, there is nothing more complex than doing business with other leaders and participating in collaborative efforts that benefit both parties.
Why, you may ask? The simple answer is, “we haven’t “allowed ourselves to simplify it and be fully forthcoming about our business needs. Take the famous “collaboration” word as an example… what does it mean, and who benefits from it if it never goes anywhere?
The potential of exposing businesses to new audiences when collaborations are done successfully is endless. Collaborations are intended to help your business grow, not create more stress. However, often, we find ourselves in a pickle because we are too ashamed about asking for what we need in a collaboration to make it work for us. If you are someone that has a habit of going above and beyond to help others with their business for free but haven’t figured out how to make it mutually beneficial for your business, then this blog is for you! Let’s address the first two things….
Your time is valuable! - As a coach, before I even start breaking down numbers, I ask my clients what they are worth per hour. So let me ask you how much will someone have to pay you for an hour of your time? If you are still struggling with this one, I suggest you do a little digging in your industry. So let’s say you are worth $400/hour, and now you are partnering to collaborate for free to get more clients. Understand the concept - Let’s take a photographer as an example. You take pictures of, say, ten individuals at this gala as a favor to a business friend. She communicates that it will be great exposure, and she will connect you with new individuals. Then you go back home, edit the pictures, make sure they are all great, and then send them back to your friend. Editing is a tedious process for anyone that has ever done it. Since we know your time is valuable, photographing ten people at a $400 rate is $4,000.
You left money on the table girlfriend! This wasn’t a collaboration; this was non-profit volunteer work!
So what are some do’s & don’ts of collaborations?
5 top Must Do’s:
1. Request all the details - Understand what it all entails. A collaboration's details are crucial and should be a requirement before even saying yes. 2. Make sure it makes sense - Some of us do favors for friends. This is not what we are discussing here… if you are going to do a business collaboration properly, then both parties should be reciprocated in the way they intended. If you notice this will add no value to your business after reviewing details, it is OKAY to say NO. 3. Be part of the project - Yes, I am saying get involved. If you’re are expecting to obtain clients from participating, figure out how you can showcase your business or provide value to attract your ideal audience. handshakes and business cards are no longer memorable; get creative. 4. Be clear on your offering - There are often miscommunications because we are not concise on what we are providing. You can avoid all this by being forthcoming and clear about what the other party can expect from you. 5. Ask for what you need - This one is always scary for my clients! Remember that you are bringing value to the collaboration, and your value cannot be quantified if you are not clear on what you want in return.
If you are thinking to yourself, “How did I miss this?” call it a learning curve; we all go through it in business. Breathe!
3 top Don’t’ s:
1. Not follow through - it is always vital that you follow through when you make a commitment in business; people will remember you for your ethic alone. 2. Be hesitant to ensure your wants are being met - In business, not everyone will be an expert on ensuring all pieces of a collaboration are done to perfection. However, it is within your grasp to ensure that your requirements are met without feeling ashamed. After all, you are both doing this to benefit mutually. 3. Be embarrassed to follow up - People get busy, and sometimes gentle reminders are essential. If you connected with individuals interested in your service, always follow up with an email.
While there is more to this topic, I hope you start noticing what to look out for and how to start getting clear on your list of wants. Never be okay with being taken advantage of; your time is always valuable; now make those successful collaborations work!
Jenny Ramirez is a business leader, mental health advocate, women empowerment activist, and writer on women’s issues across the globe. She is an adventurous soul who enjoys exploring different cultures and connecting with women from different walks of life during her free time.